WASHINGTON – Rates on 30-year and 15-year mortgages fell this week, but are up considerably when compared to the same period last year.
Freddie Mac (FRE), in its weekly nationwide survey, reported Thursday that rates on benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgages declined to 6.25 percent, down from 6.32 percent last week. A year ago, rates were lower, averaging 5.24 percent.
Thirty-year mortgage rates hit a low this year of 5.38 percent the week ending March 18. Since then, they have slowly moved upward.
Rates for 15-year, fixed-rateges dipped to 5.64 percent. That was down from 5.70 percent last week, but up from the average rate of 4.63 percent registered a year ago.
For one-year adjustable rate mortgages, rates this week stood at 4.13 percent, unchanged from last week. A year ago, rates on one-year ARMs averaged 3.45 percent.
"This week's easing off in mortgage rates is rooted in the market's wait-and-see posture with regard to the Federal Reserve Board's (search) upcoming actions on interest rates," said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac's chief economist.
Economists expect the Fed will raise short-term rates for the first time in four years when they meet next week.
Rates on 30-year mortgages could rise to 6.9 percent by the end of this year, which would still be considered low by historical standards, according to some economists' estimates. An improved labor market should help offset the impact of higher rates, they said. Some economists are forecasting home sales to set new records this year.
In May, new-home sales surged by 14.8 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.37 million, an all-time monthly high, the Commerce Department (search) reported.
The nationwide averages for mortgage rates do not include add-on fees known as points. Thirty-year and 15-year loans each carried an average fee of 0.6 point this week, while one-year ARMs carried an average fee of 0.7 point.
In a separate report, refinancings accounted for 33.4 percent of total mortgage loan applications filed last week, down from 33.8 percent in the previous week, the Mortgage Bankers Association (search) said.